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10 May 2017

Thorsten Benner & Wolfgang Reinicke in The Washington Post (USA)

Hungary: Multinational corporations only key players still silent on Orban's assault on independent academia, civil society & media

"It’s time for international investors to speak up about Hungary’s assault on democracy", 18 Apr 2017

Earlier this month, German President...warned against an assault on civil society and academic freedom in the heart of Europe. “Europe must raise its voice,” he declared. He was referring...to the predicament of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest... Hungarian parliament passed a law with the sole purpose of driving CEU...out of the country... His latest move has earned Orban strong criticism... The U.S. government has come out strongly against [it]... German Chancellor Angela Merkel... [has] harshly criticized him. The only key players to have remained silent are the many European and U.S. multinational corporations — such as Audi, Daimler and General Electric...factories, research and development centers, and logistics hubs [of which] form the backbone of Hungary’s economy... German companies alone employ 174,000 Hungarians... Daimler has just invested about a billion euros in a new plant in Hungary. Audi is the second-largest employer... Any slowing or interruption of Audi’s production has an immediate impact on Hungarian gross domestic product. It is time for these companies to change course... Multinational corporations have a particular responsibility within the E.U... They cannot turn a blind eye when political freedom is being eroded even as they continue to benefit from the four economic freedoms of the [E.U.] common market. Foreign investors need to clearly speak up against Orban’s authoritarian agenda and his assault on independent civil society and media.

Part of the following timelines

Hungary: Rapidly shrinking civic freedoms - what business can do

Business, civic freedoms and human rights defenders: Which developments and ideas did we put in the spotlight?